Monday 27 April 2009

Aradhana (1969)

Following the death of legendary movie Producer Shakti Samanta, earlier this month, i knew i had to check out one of his most highly acclaimed work which i had heard so much about and which had been lying around somewhere in my dvd collection. Aradhana (Devotion) became a box office success upon its release and became the 7th highest grossing movie of the '60's. This is also the first film for which Sharmila Tagore won her first Filmfare and Filmfare Best actress award, Aradhana also won the Filmfare Best movie of the year and Kishore Kumar won his first Filmfare male playback award for this movie, so anyway we can see it was a groundbreaking movie for the people involved.

Vandana (Sharmila Tagore) lives in the mountains with her dad who is a doctor, one day she meets Arun (Rajesh Khanna) a pilot when she splashes water on him by accident after he had come to enquire for the doctor

The two fall in love and get married in Private, after night of passion with each other, Vandana feels guilty and Arun assures her everything would be fine and he promises they would get married in front of their family. On his way to tell his family members about the wedding Arun has a plane crash and dies. Before dying he makes Vandana promise to raise their child to become a pilot

Vandana reveals news about her pregnancy to her father who fears for her safety and worries for his daughter and grandson's wellbeing fearing they will be made outcasts. Vandana tells him she and Arun had married privately but her father is still worried telling her that the fact no witnesses were present would make their marriage unbelievable by others. They decide to go to Arun's family and tell him that he and Vanadana were married, but they refuse to accept her fearing she's only after their wealth and saying Arun hadn't told them about being married

Vandana and her father leave and a few months later her dad dies too, she eventually gives birth to a son and then decides to drop him secretly in an orphanage with the hope of going to adopt him next day and thereby lessening the stigma of society.

When she arrives the next day to pick up her son, he had been given to a man whose wife had given birth to a stillborn and to prevent her from being traumatized her husband had adopted a baby without the knowledge of his wife.Vandana pleads with the Orphange caretaker to give her the address , when she gets there she makes the matter know to Ram Saxena who had adopted the baby

Ram begs Vandana to leave the baby with them telling her he would have a good future and would never lack anything, he asks Vandana to become their babysitter, Vandana makes him promise never to reveal her identity as Suraj's mother, and that the matter would be known to both of them only.Vandana becomes Suraj's babysitter and lives with Ram and his wife

One day Ram's brother in law Shyam comes back from Europe, and starts staying with the family, he takes a liking to Vandana and when he attempts to rape her one day, Suraj seeing Vandana is in danger tries to rescue Vandana and he stabs Shyam to death by accident, Vandana tells Suraj not to say anything saying she would handle the whole incident . Vandana is charged with murder and sentenced to 12 years in Jail

After her 12 years are up the prison Guard tells her Ram Prasad is dead and the whole family, including Ram's wife and son are nowhere to be found, and can't be reached. Vandana is distraught and wonders about Suraj

Will she ever find him? What would Suraj be, would he have followed his mother's ideal for him?

Overall i loved this intelligently woven drama and i really can't say a bad word about it, if you enjoy compelling drama's you'll love Aradhana and its one of those movies you can rewatch time and time again. Even though its a remake/inspired by the hollywood film To each his own (1954) which i haven't seen , hence i can't compare, Shakti Samanta's direction is superb and although you know it would end on a happier note, the events unfold in a clever manner. While some might have an issue with the notion of the whole self sacrificing woman theme, i felt it was justified in Aradhana as she protected a loved one and herself from the stigma and harsh jugement in society, which if she hadn't, would have inevitably made life unbearable for both mother and child.

Rajesh Khanna is freshfaced with boyish good looks and he balances his double role really well. The chemistry between him and Sharmila is wonderful and they both make a great pair

it was also nice to seeing a young, radiant Farida Jalal

This is my first Sharmila Tagore film and i am now a big fan, her emotions were excellently portrayed, which i believe is a result of her great acting and Shakti Samanta's direction, i really felt them, even though i'm not one to get emotional for a film, the only film that has ever made me cry is The burning train and i was only about 8 years of age at the time. Sharmila Tagore's styling in this movie was Super wow, i kept taking screen grabs, she is so beautiful, i've included a slideshow showing many of her wonderful looks, i think a picture of Sharmila Tagore should be in the dictionary next to the definition of a Sari, she carries it off so well and in fact all through the movie all she wears are Sarees

The songs from Aradhana scored by S.D. Burman are all time classics and they fit the film perfectly, all the songs were cleverly woven into the plot and captured the essence of the particular situation. The film has 7 songs in total, all of which i loved, but i shall only discuss 4, as i don't want to give away too much. The melancholic & moving Kaheko Roye, the poetic and beautiful Kora Kagaz tha , the famous Mera Sapno ki rani which has been parodied so many times and is one of the most popular bollywood songs ever, and the sexy & groovy Roop tera mastana sang by Kishore Kumar, which won him his first Best male Playback filmfare award, which i've included below, it's so sexy and i can't help but groove along to it each time i hear it, it's said to have been shot in one single take

A wonderful well directed movie by Shakti Samanta and i can't wait to see many more of his works, May his soul rest in peace.

Total Score: 8/10 (A movie to watch again and again, an evergreen Classic)

Update: Although S.D. Burman is credited with the film's music, two songs 'Mera Sapno Ki rani' & 'Roop tera mastana' were scored by R.D Burman, you can read more about the music of Aradhana here

Friday 17 April 2009

Happy Birthday to you Poonam Dhillon

Poonam Dhillon in the 1979 smash hit movie Noorie

Happy Birthday to dear Poonam Dhillon, one of my favourite bollywood sweethearts. She burst onto the movie scene in 1978 when Yash Chopra cast her in Trishul shortly after she had just won Femina Magazine's Miss Young India. Following Trishul, Poonam appeared in a number of Box office hits such as Noorie, Karma, Sohni Mahiwal etc. But the first Poonam movie i ever watched was Yeh Vaada Raha a sweet love story which i heard flopped in India but that movie was in the same ranks if not even more popular than Sholay when i was a child in Nigeria, something my dear fellow blogger Daddy's Girl has testified to, another dear friend and fellow blogger Nicki has also testified how the movie was such a hit among Thai people.

Poonam never won any awards perhaps because she always played the hero's girlfriend and never really got to play strong roles, something i think her cuteness denied her and possibly something to do with her shyness, which she herself admitted to, on her website. However Poonam was always so delightful to watch, her innocent face always brightened up the screen and she always gives a charming performance so much so that in most movies you see her in, you can't help but like her and if it were possible you'd want to give her a hug from the screen. God bless you Poonam and i wish you many more happy years to come. I've included five of my fave Poonam Picturisations to celebrate her 47th birthday

5. Hum Jis Raste pe chale from Teri Kasam (1982) In a movie dominated mostly by Amit Kumar singing for Kumar Gaurav, Lata Mangeshkar joins him in this duet, Poonam looks so adoring and i really like her and Kumar Gaurav together

4. Gapoochi Gapoochie Gum from Trishul (1979) Listen to this song once and you'll be
singing it all day,Poonam looks ravishing as usual

3. Sawan ke din aaye from Teri Meherbaniyan (1985) Every bollywood actress usually
needed a sexy rain song and dance usually with another bollywood actor,
however Poonam sizzles alone
in this one

2. Chori Chori koi aaye from Noorie (1979) Poonam looks like the
embodiment of sweetness and cuteness in this catchy song from the sweet,
simple and sad smash hit film Noorie

1.Yeh vaada Raha from Yeh Vaada Raha (1982) This was the first movie
that i saw Poonam in,
and the rest as they say is History, Asha's voice really suits
Poonam's in this classic song and i like the romantic dance between her
and Rishi

Thursday 16 April 2009

Bombay (1995)

Bombay is a 1995 tamil film dubbed later dubbed in Hindi, as such i can claim its perhaps my first Tamil film. The film garnered lots of critical acclaim and won several awards including the Filmfare Best Critics film award

Shekhar (Arvind Swamy) returns home from Bombay to his hometown, upon his arrival he comes across Shaila Bano ( Manisha Koirala), Shekhar falls in love instantly

Shaila Bano is reluctant but she eventually falls for him, (now as we all know in Bollywood there has to be an obstacle in the path of the lovers, in this case Shaila Bano is Muslim and Shekhar is Hindu). Trouble arises when Shekhar goes to ask for Shaila Bano's hand for marriage, her parents threaten him and his parents make their discontent known as well

Shekhar returns to Bombay without Shaila Bano, but he keeps in touch with her through letters delivered to her secretly by her friend, eventually she escapes from her village and she joins Shekhar in Bombay, they eventually give birth to twins Kabir Natrayan and Kamal Basheer each bearing elements of their parents religions in their names

During the riots following a religious clash between Hindu's and Muslims the kids get sepearted from their parents and are taken into hostage by gang leaders who douse the kids in petrol and threaten to burn them alive

Will they be saved in time? Will Shekhar and Shaila Bano's parents ever get reconciled with their children? How will Shekhar and Shailo Bano's marriage be able able to cope in the midst of all the religious clashes? Watch Bombay for these answers

I really enjoyed Bombay and i have it down as one of my favourites, i love the chemisrty between Manisha and Arvind, and i really like the way their romance was balanced with the political commentary of the film. Religious intolerance is something i've heard of so many times and see on the news, but in Bombay particularly the scene captured in the last screen cap above really brought home to me the harshness and reality of religious differences.

The cinematography is excellent and the riot scenes are outstanding, i found myself clenching my sofa seats, it felt as if i was right there in the midst of the chaos. At the heart of Bombay's message is peace and unity regardless of our religious background, while its a great message the cynic/pessimist side of me thinks this is an impossible feat as we live in a fallen world. However applause to Mani Ratnam for his effort and for adding his dimension on the issue of religious divide

The music of Bombay is one of my favourite soundtracks EVER and is my best A.R. Rahman work so FAR, (the background score from the movie has even been featured in the hollywood film 'Lord of war' and has been used in a number of foreign adverts and has been sampled by german band Lowenherz). The music ranges from the wonderful ballad Tu Hi Re, to the very poppy and dancey 'Humma' see below

to the heart melting Kehna hi kya, this song really makes me all warm and excited on my insides, the music of Bombay is utterly fabulous

Manisha and the dancers in Kehna hi kya

Total Score: 8/10

Bollywood DVD Shopping

Bollyman - Great prices and free Uk delivery on every item irregardless of price

Bollywoodzone - Great selection and a huge 3 for £10 range on a wide range of classic movies

BollyUk Fair Prices and free Uk delivery on all items irregardless of prices

Dvddhamaka - Great site with decent prices and quite a huge selection of dvds, if a dvd is out of stock at Nehaflix, you're most guaranteed to find it at Dvddhamaka, they also have a much cheaper delivery rate than Nehaflix

Ebay - Great range of titles and excellent prices depending on the seller, i've included too sellers who have a nice selection below
Indian Ash
The Perfect Indian Store

Eros Entertainment - Great bargains with Dvds going for as little as £1/$1 on clearout sales, register with them so you can be alerted on when they're having their huge sales

Induna - Great selection of dvds, with arguably one of the biggest online selection of bollywood movies, they're based in India but the dvds are often very cheap particularly the moserbaer brand which costs about $1.50-$2.75, even with the shipping charges, their prices are very reasonable

Music House - Great Prices on classics and free Uk delivery on every order irregardless of Price

- Based in the Us they have a huge and wide variety of dvds, their prices are really decent too

Tip Top Entertainment
- Great site for classics as well as modern movies at a very very decent price + free UK delivery with orders over £15. Classic dramas like Anand, Chupke Chupke, Do Raaste, Shakti etc all retail for about £2.99 each and newer modern movies from about £10

If you live in the UK you can rent Bollywood films from tesco dvd rentals or Love Film

In the US you can rent Bollywood films from Netflix

Movie Reviews A - Z


Aaj Ki Taazar Khabar (1973)

Aas (1953)

Farz (1967)

Wednesday 8 April 2009

Kanoon (1960)

B.R. Chopra one of my favourite directors was at a German film festival when hindi movies were dismissed as nothing but just a song and dance affair, B.R. Chopra saw this as a challenge and made kanoon (Law), a stylish gripping court drama & one of the first songless hindi movies, and 'oh boy' did he deliver, the film also won the filmfare award for Best Direction.

Kalidas (Jeevan) is charged with murder, he appears before Judge Badri Prasad (Ashok Kumar) in court to plead his case. He contends that how can the law charge a man twice for the murder of the same man whom he had been accused of killing 10 years ago, and for which he had served a 10 year sentence. He argues that how can a man be charged twice for the same crime and how the law could not return 10 years he had spent in jail, Kalidas then gets a heart attack and dies in court, his case gathers a huge press coverage

Upon his death, Judge Badri Prasad discusses issues raised by kalidas's case with his fellow lawyers on the unreliability of witnesses and the effectiveness of capital punishment. His fellow Judges beg to differ and they come up with a bet that he (Badri Prasad) can get away with murder, Badri Prasad begs to differ but still takes on the bet

Dhaniram a money lender tries to blackmail Shashikala who was married to another man while her husband Kalidas was in Jail, he asks her to help keep his mouth shut, she leaves in anger refusing to give in to his demands

Dhaniram incidentally has also lent money to Vijay ( Mehmood) who is Judge Badri Prasad's son, Vijay had signed away his father's estate as collateral for the money borrowed from Dhaniram. Dhaniram reminds him that if he's unable to return his money, he would take over his father's estate. A scared Vijay who is unable to pay back confides in his sister Meena (Nanda) who tells him off, but decides to help him by telling her lawyer boyfriend Kailash Khanna (Rajendra Kumar)

Kailash decides to help and goes to Dhaniram's place, he tells Dhaniram that manipulating Vijay is illegal, and could land him in Jail, a sacred Dhaniram hands the papers over to Kailash, while there a visitor comes to visit Dhaniram, and Kailash hides in Dhaniram's room. The visitor murders Dhaniram, not knowing Kailash had seen the whole thing. A shocked kailash recognises the visitor as his father in law Judge Badri Prasad. Kailash leaves without informing the cops and Kaalia (Nana Palsiker) a thief who comes to burgle Dhaniram's flat gets arrested for the murder

Kailash is shocked and is determined to bring his father in law Judge Badri Prasad to justice. One day while visiting his house Kailash reads Badri Prasad's diary and comes across the bet placed with his fellow judges. Kailash is fully convinced and is determined to bring Judge Prasad to justice

Will Kailash succed in bringing his father in law to justice? Will Judge Prasad get away with the bet? Did he really murder Dhaniram, and why did he do it? Will Kaalia be wrongly punished? For these and many more answers watch Kanoon

Overall Kanoon like most B.R. Chopra films had a social message behind it, without being too preachy, some of the themes explored by B.R. Chopra in the film are how 'life for life punishment' very often if not always isn't about justice but revenge, how emotions and justice should not be related as seen through Kailash and his fight to bring his father in law to justice, and the unreliability of Human witnesses.

Overall Kanoon is an all round entertainer, a taut gripping suspense courtroom drama which explores the issue of law & capital punishment. The characters in this movie are strong and well drawn, Ashok Kumar is excellent, so is Nana Palsiker who won the Filmfare award for best supporting actor for his role as Kaalia. Rajendra Kumar is convincing in his role as the young lawyer out to get his father in law, Nanda gives a strong perfomance and Mehmood as usual is delightful and adds some comedic element to the film.

Another thing i liked about kanoon was its style, even though it had no songs the characters were all stylish, whether Mehmood in his slick hair do's & cute bow ties or Ashok Kumar and Rajendra Kumar in their hats, or the Jazz band and the Rock'n'Roll jive dancers, they all looked stylish. The film included a ballet scene as well, which i have never seen in a hindi film with a Russian ballet dancer and an Indian Bharatanatyam dancer, which is so beautiful and blended so well with each other, east meets west if you like (see pictures below)

Total Score: 8/10